Friday, September 14, 2007

A Kelly Series

While Candy is back to writing about the domestic arts, a topic at which she excels, I also plan to write up some apologetics posts.

Amy from Blessed Motherhood, who comments here as motherofmany, was kind enough to send me two books written from the point of view of former Catholics. One is Far From Rome, Near To God and the other is The Truth Set Us Free, both published through Berean Beacon. Both books are compiled of testimonies, the former from men who used to be priests and the latter from former nuns. One would hope that priests and nuns would fully understand the Catholic faith, but apparently, that is not always the case.

In reading the stories, often they make the same points over and over. I would like to address the frequently occurring points, because they are also often the most mischaracterized aspects of the Catholic Church.

To deal with a first quick example, let's talk about paying to have a Mass said for someone who has died. People often claim that this is a reason why the Catholic Church is so rich.

First, no one is required to have a Mass said for the dead. The dead are not "held hostage" until their families can raise enough money. The Mass is a form of prayer, and so this is another form of prayer for the dead, which is a practice encouraged by the Church.

(For additional information on praying for the dead, I suggest looking here and here.)

Second, no one is required to pay for the Mass. We have what is a suggested offering, but if you can't pay, you will not be turned away.

If the Church is accumulating wealth by these Masses, how much do you think the suggested donation must be? A lot, huh? Nope. A mere $5 is the norm.

Let's do some math here. Say there is one Mass a day Monday through Friday, and two a each on Saturday and Sunday. At $5 a Mass, that would be $45 a week, or $2340 a year. I attend a small parish, and our operating budget is $5000 per WEEK. A whole year's worth of Masses at my church will pay for half of one week's budget.

In fact, it's pretty cold where I am, so we probably spend that much on heating alone. Let me tell you, those big stone churches are drafty and mighty expensive to heat. That is pretty typical of the supposed wealth of the Catholic Church. Most of it is held in things such are buildings and art, which bring in no income, but have a lot of upkeep. Restoring the Sistine Chapel was not cheap.

In fact, the operating budget of the Vatican is a mere $300 million dollars. Think that "mere" is misplaced? General Motors reported assets of $455 billion in 2003.

If anyone has any burning questions, feel free to post them in the comments section. Although there are certain topics that I definitely want to cover, I don't have a particular order in mind. So, if someone really wants to hear more about faith versus works, which is already being discussed in comments, I can start in on that.

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